Monday, April 02, 2007

Finding Water, Check in, Week 6

I had to take Madam to the doctor today because of something called "Nursemaid's Elbow". We were playing around and then I heard a small sickening little "crack, crack" followed by her wailing. I thought maybe it was just like when you crack your knuckles or something, but grew concerned when nursing, Wonder Pets, nothing could stop her crying. And every movement seemed to be causing her pain.

It snapped back into place by itself right before we got to the doctor. She's fine now, thank goodness. I'm the one feeling a little weak-kneed. I could have broken my adored little Madam's arm.

So, this is my public service announcement. If you are playing rough with an under-three year old, please do not yank on his/her arm.

Onward to the check in...
____________________
About four years ago, my eldest sister (Lawyer Sister, aka the Happy Pagan) and I went to Omega to attend a workshop with Julia Cameron. Upon the end of the workshop, my sister commented, “I don’t know. I liked it, but I guess I thought creative people would be happier. More together, somehow.”

Her words drifted back into my mind this week, after reading another difficult chapter of Finding Water. J.C. was obviously going through something of a depression while writing this, and I find myself both comforted by the fact that she could still produce something while in that state, and feeling like I want to flee her. Which is my long way of explaining that I didn’t really do many of the exercises in this chapter, since I only skimmed it once.

One of things I DID do, and in fact do all of the time, was re-read a favorite children’s book—my Artist’s Date. While growing up, this book, and the others in this series, were fantasies for me. I had forgotten how very much I wanted to perform as a kid—to be outstanding in such a physical way. I think its because acting, dancing, singing, painting are so OBVIOUSLY themselves. Whereas writing…well, you could be doing your homework, writing a letter, typing “the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog” again and again. The other arts have legitimacy in my dramatic family that writing doesn’t quite command.

I think that’s why I love to blog—it’s my type of performance art!

A quote that caught my eye is “Remember that too much information can dampen the imagination.” I certainly remember this when I’m trying to tell Madam something specific about trees and flowers. I’ve always been a city girl, but I feel the need to know more about nature. Maybe another children’s book is the remedy for this as well.

This week I’ve felt a little inhibited on the page. Still writing in drips and drabs, adding to the novel ever so slowly. I long for one big breakout day, when the words flow over the dam of me, when it feels like I’m on the right track. In part, this might be because I am reading a few writing books while I write. While I think the books have wonderful, necessary information (especially this one), my brain just freezes up when I read them. When I write, I start to think “Is this enough conflict? Should I put the reversal in here? And what about the epiphany? Is it being foreshadowed? Is this what the book means by tension? What about description? Are my people just floating in space? Is this scene ratcheting up the stakes?” And then I just grind to a halt. And the thing is…all of those questions are valid, but when I read about all that, the words all turn into vapor.

So I sneak away and cheat on my novel with the short little pieces (like the one below for SS) and feel happy again. But always, the nagging feelings that I don’t REALLY know how to write a novel. How to learn? The books are helpful, but not helping.

I think I need to spend this week reading more novels. Any suggestions? First person, with a bit of a complicated structure, perhaps referencing a well-known story, myth, fairy tale, or religious theme?

MP: seven out of seven, but I did cut them short (2 pages) on Saturday. Madam was fussy.

Artists date: see above.

Walk: As always, slowly and with the Madam. Once my inlaws come next week (pray for me), maybe I’ll be able to go out for walks by MYSELF while she stays with them.

Yeah, right.

So, since the TEG contingent will be here all of the next week, I might not be able to check in. Have a wonderful, and productive, week!

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15 Comments:

Blogger Claire said...

Oh my. Glad the wee one is OK! And how random yet compelling are the Wonder Pets?

Cxx

3:58 AM, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Becoming Amethyst said...

Eeek ~ glad the little one is well again ~ an important public announcement you made there :-)

I love the idea of blogging as the writer's performance art ~ work's for me anyhow!!!

As for ideas on densely plotted first person narrator novels ~ off the top of my head I'm thinking 'The Passion of New Eve' by Anglea Carter, 'Fight Club' by Chuck Palahniuk or 'In The Cut' by Susanna Moore. I love them all anyhow :-)

I don't know about you, but I definitely have two (at least!) writer's heads...one for the creative first go at the page stuff, and the other for later editing and thinking about structuring devices etc. And never shall the two meet ~ else they lock me together in some kind of creative/editing paralysis...

Good luck with this week, let's keep each other smiling when Julia Cameron can't help with the laughter...

love x x x

5:06 AM, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Susan Abraham said...

...I think that’s why I love to blog—it’s my type of performance art!


I've only just got to know you, Mardou. But how wonderful that you're writing a novel?

Follow your instincts to see just what it is you feel like reading and start from there.

About creative people being happy. I find myself euphoric really in some ways and then deeply somber in others. :-)

And oh...your poor little Madam. I felt so sorry for her. Poor little thing! Give her a kiss & huggie from me. :-)

5:11 AM, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Susan Abraham said...

Oh Mardou, I almost forgot. I took your like about performance art because I was going to say what a clever way to have searched yourself on why you blog.

5:12 AM, April 03, 2007  
Anonymous tammy vitale said...

re JC and creative people - her workshops are going to attract folks who've read her books - this last should bring out the most morose creatives ever. Kudos for you for keeping going and finding something good in it!

6:37 AM, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Bohemian Mom said...

Yes...how scary it must have been for you to hear bones crackling on your little one!
And yes, I too am a bit thrown off this book while reading about Cameron's depression. I want to be inspired, like I've been with her other books. I guess I need to learn to be inspired by some of the disturbing stuff?
I am loving morning pages, and I too....have found my bliss in blogging!

6:41 AM, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Jessie said...

my heart was in my throat when i read about madame! geesh! i'm glad that she is ok. kids are such fragile little birds. and madame is the sweetest of them all.

good luck with the in-laws this week. maybe you'll get a chance to actually go on a SOLO artist's date? :) i hope so!

ps.
have you gone to see "the namesake" yet? (i can't remember if you have or not). anyway, it's playing at at the uptown theater (by the library). you should go. it will knock your socks off!!

9:56 AM, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Leah said...

oh, poor madam! that must have been scary for you! something similar happened to my sister when she was about that age. my dad was pulling her up from a lying down position and her shoulder got dislocated. ouchie. yeah, little ones can be suprisingly durable and then so fragile! i know i'll be a little scared about this when i have little ones of my own!

yeah, i feel similarly about j.c.'s depression. it's interesting to read about how she works through it, but i do wish things would shift for her and soon! :-)

good luck this week! i hope you are able to get out on your own for a bit!

10:48 AM, April 03, 2007  
Blogger deirdre said...

Oh, I'm glad it turned out well with Madam - you must have been frantic.

I'm sure I'm not novelist material. The questions you ask here would freeze me completely and the story would stop dead cold. When I put too much mind-time into the process it all gets so complicated.

Good luck next week. I hope you're able to get a little time to yourself.

11:09 AM, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Colorsonmymind said...

I am always nervous about my little mans arms as my mil told me she pulled my sil arm out of the socket once. Glad madam is ok and thanks for the reminder-they are fun to wrestle with aren't they?

I was way too intimidated to start the finding water book, but feel I wish I was reading it to understand the experience first hand, because what you are sharing is interesting to me.

I ramble.

Keep writing even if you can only get out bits and drabs.

XOXO

12:01 PM, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Yummyteece said...

Goodness! I'm so sorry to hear about Madame's ouchy, but pleased that it wasn't more serious.

ALso, I love Omega. I get their course catalogue and look forward to the day i can attend a class/seminar/retreat.

Lastly, best of luck next week with the In-law visitation. *hug*

12:16 PM, April 03, 2007  
Blogger kate said...

I think you're wonderful. Your last SS post was beautiful. Are you sure you need these writing books? I find if I'm thinking too intellectually about craft, I become paralyzed. A book that has helped me: 3 x 33. It's an anthology of short fiction, 3 stories each by 33 different writers. It allows me to be inspired by Baldwin's dialogue, Diaz's voice, Baxter's character, Munro's plot, etc. without making the time commitment to read whole novels by all of these wonderful writers.

7:55 AM, April 04, 2007  
Blogger kate said...

Oh, and I'm so glad that Madam is okay. How terrifying.

7:56 AM, April 04, 2007  
Blogger earnest and game said...

Nursemaid's elbow? How quaint and old-fashioned a name. I'm glad that all is well again. Poor lambs, both of you-one hurt, both scared and confused. Good luck with la tua familia. Xoxoox
PS if you see Kara Walker at the Walker museum please share comments!

5:31 PM, April 05, 2007  
Anonymous Frida said...

Oh yes - Ballet Shoes was absolutely one of my favorite books as a girl and I still treasure those dreams of being a truly spectacular dancer (I re-watched Dirty Dancing again last week, love it!).

On the topic of novels you might want to read, did I already mention Margaret Atwood's "The Penelopiad"? When I read it recently I thought about you.

And it's called "Nursemaid's Elbow" because nursemaids were known for yanking their charges by the elbow and pulling them out of the socket I guess? Charming. Thanks for the warning. Hope Madam is recovering and that neither of you lose your taste for rough-housing. I'm a HUGE fan of physical play for little girls. Read "The Frailty Myth" if you are interested in how little girls learn to be frail.

xx

11:35 PM, April 05, 2007  

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